KRYSTAL Lee (pictured) recently arrived home to triumphantly high-five her husband after quitting her job of 11 years.
“We may be eating beans for a while, but it’s really exciting,” she laughed.
For years university was Krystal’s priority and she gave up a lot to do it.
Now the next stage will see her give everything to her creative business.
It’s an eventful time all-round for the visual arts alumnus, who has been recognised for winning the La Trobe DM Myers Medal for her 2015 honours year.
The medal is awarded annually to the top two outstanding honours graduates in each college.
Krystal was chosen out of 299 arts, social sciences and commerce honours students across all La Trobe campuses.
“I was surprised,” she said.
“I feel really honoured to have been awarded the medal. It’s pretty amazing.”
The Echuca-based artist returned to tertiary studies in 2012 when she was 30 to find out if her creative hobby could be anything more.
“Until then I had worked a lot of different jobs, but nothing career-based,” she said.
“But I got to the point where I was spending nearly every moment outside of work drawing and creating.
“Going to university to study art was this crazy idea that kept popping up. It was a huge decision.”
Krystal said cutting back work to study came just as she and her husband bought their first home – a 1950s weatherboard cottage a couple of minutes’ drive from the Murray.
“We were planning renovations, so financially it was a big move to change from full time work to full time study,’’ she said.
“But at the end of the day you need to follow your dreams. And everything has worked out so well.”
Krystal arrived at La Trobe with a folio of illustrations, believing that’s where her strength lay.
“University made me realise I was much more multi-disciplinary,” she said.
“My art matured a lot and I began doing more conceptual work. There was more thought behind it, more storytelling.”
She returned to her first love for her honours year, focusing on the conceptual side of children’s book illustration, how a story is told and how the genre of children’s illustration could be expanded.
“For me, it was a total passion,” Krystal said. “I adored every minute of it because illustrating children’s books is something I’d love to do.”
Krystal’s fine-lined illustrations of woodland creatures, birds and feathers are still a feature of her practice, but that’s expanded to include one-off fine artworks, portraiture and weavings – the latter being a hark back to the clothing production course she completed at RMIT in her 20s.
To check out Krystal’s work, head to www.krystalleeartist.com